Life revolves around the water kiosk in Sengelel village in Kenya’s West Pokot County.
Kamama, 5, loves to grab a small plastic jerry can or her mother’s tea kettle and walk down the lane to the kiosk 252 yards away. There, moms laugh and chat while they wash clothes and hang them on the cactus fence to dry. Kids play chase and kick a soccer ball made from plastic bags bound with string.
Kamama fills her kettle with clear, cool water that pours from three faucets jutting from the kiosk’s concrete tower. The clean water is piped from a mountain spring to 15 kiosks serving 800 families. It flows from taps at the primary school, church, and health center.
When World Vision began the water project about two years ago, Kamama’s mother, Julia, joined her neighbors to decide where the closest kiosk and livestock watering trough would be built. She spent days digging trenches for the pipeline.
“I couldn’t imagine a life with clean water,” she says.
When they drank river water, Kamama often suffered from dysentery and had skin problems. She didn’t like to go to the river to bathe and fetch water. “It was too far; I wanted to stop,” Kamama says.
Julia wanted to stop, too. “Before [the water system] I walked for three hours fetching water from the river,” she says. “Now it’s just a few minutes to the kiosk.”
The water system has paid off more than Julia’s family could imagine. The burden of carrying water for hours each day has been lifted, she has water to grow fruits and vegetables, and her children bathe daily.
Clean water has brought them more time, healthy energy, and income, so her children have opportunities and choices. Three of them are in secondary school. Ruto and Toroitich, the boys, want to be lawyers. Dorcas, in her first year of secondary school, wants to be a doctor and work in the local health center.
And Kamama? It’s too early to say, but there are plenty of choices for a girl who doesn’t have to spend her days carrying water.